The ongoing World Cup in Qatar has sparked inevitable talk about who is the greatest player of all-time (G.O.A.T.) – Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Television pundits have been wading into the debate during World Cup broadcasts, while fans have filled social media with their thoughts on the matter.
In an amusing turn of events, football betting site Betway went a step further by enlisting the services of a team of goats to determine who is football’s G.O.A.T.
They ignored the claims of Messi, Ronaldo, Pele and Zinedine Zidane to pick Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona, and their choice undoubtedly has plenty of merit.
However, it would be fair to say that Maradona’s achievements were tarnished by controversial moments including the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in 1986.
Pele’s three World Cup successes with Brazil put him firmly in the conversation, but his failure to test himself in European club football is a black mark on his CV.
By contrast, Zidane won a ton of silverware during his club career and played an integral role in France’s World Cup success in 1998.
Despite the claims of that particular trio, the Messi and Ronaldo era will be remembered by football historians as a truly golden age for the sport.
Choosing between Messi and Ronaldo is no easy task, and it is feasible to make a strong case for either of them to be considered the G.O.A.T.
Ronaldo has scored six more goals than Messi at club level, but it should be noted that he has been playing for two years longer than his rival.
The period between 2009 and 2015 was especially noteworthy, as they pushed each other on to extraordinary feats with Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Messi is the superior player when it comes to assists, setting up significantly more goals than Ronaldo has managed during their respective careers.
Ronaldo leads the way in Champions League goals and should hang onto that record with both players set to leave European football in the near future.
Messi edges the battle in terms of league titles (11), four more than Ronaldo. However, the latter has achieved the feat in three different countries – England, Spain and Italy.
Ronaldo has won the Champions League on five occasions, just one more than Messi. However, the Argentine has a chance to add to his tally with Paris Saint-Germain this season.
Given their respective statistics at club level, it is virtually impossible to determine which player is the G.O.A.T., which leaves us with international football as the possible tie-breaker.
Messi has suffered plenty of heartbreak with Argentina, but finally helped them win silverware when they defeated Brazil to clinch the 2021 Copa America.
Ronaldo helped Portugal win the European Championship in 2016, which effectively equals Messi’s achievement in winning a continental title.
On that basis, Messi or Ronaldo need to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to finally settle the debate about who is the greatest player of all-time. If neither of them can get the job done, we will perhaps need another session with Betway’s goats to settle the debate once and for all!